Eric the Red

Eric the Red, fl. 10th cent., Norse chieftain, discoverer and colonizer of Greenland according to the sagas. He left (c.950) Norway with his exiled father and settled in Iceland. A feud resulting in manslaughter led to his banishment (c.981) from Iceland for three years. He sailed c.982 to seek land reputed to lie W of Iceland. The discovery of Greenland followed, and Eric and his Viking followers spent three years exploring the south and west coasts. On his return to Iceland he promoted a colonizing venture and is said to have given Greenland its attractive name to encourage settlers. He led (c.986) to the new land a group of 25 ships, of which 14 arrived, carrying about 500 people. Eric established a farmstead, Brattahlið, near present Qaqortoq (Julianehåb) and was a leader of the southern settlements (Osterbygd). He resisted in vain the introduction (c.1000) of Christianity by his son Leif Ericsson .

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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